DevOps for Crisis Communication: Five Steps to Prevent a Crisis from Becoming a Disaster
June 08, 2016

Jason Hand
VictorOps

According a recent IDC report, the average total cost of unplanned application downtime per year is between $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion, and the average hourly cost of an infrastructure failure is $100,000. What's more, a recent report by IHS about the cost of server, application and network downtime revealed that downtime is costing North American organizations $700 billion per year. We do everything we can to learn from these failures and improve our processes and tools along the way, but something many companies fail to address as a problem is often the most important: crisis communication.   

Using DevOps principles when dealing with incidents and outages can help organizations avoid common pitfalls many companies encounter when a disruption in service inevitably occurs. Here are five DevOps practices that can keep a crisis from getting worse:

1. Practice empathy

Empathy is at the heart of the DevOps movement. Unfortunately, it is one of the hardest practices to implement. The middle of a crisis is a difficult time to start working on this, but by thinking about how others might respond to news of an outage before an incident occurs, you can build a solid communication foundation with empathy as a building block.

2. Organize your information

During a crisis, every passing second is critical. Having helpful information organized and readily available can make a huge difference in not only repairing system issues, but communicating clearly with those who need to be "in the know." Step-by-step instructions and checklists known as runbooks will go a long way in quickly triaging issues and making sure all important items are addressed and in the correct order.

3. Be transparent

DevOps is all about collaboration, which translates to real-time team communication. Communication is even more important during a crisis, but communication is only useful if it is completely transparent and provides accurate and up-to-date information. Event timelines and "persistent group chat" tools should be leveraged for teams to discuss their findings and efforts, but it is equally important for organizations to display operational transparency to their end users.

4. Conduct post-mortems

In complex system environments, the only way to fully and accurately understand the details and contributing factors to a disruption in service is to retroactively analyze what took place during the disruption. As soon as stakeholders can be assembled, a post-incident analysis should take place to document, discuss, and understand the sequence of events and actions.

4. Learn from others

Outages happen all the time. The best and most respected companies realize that any attempt to hide or deny information about an issue can quickly become a blemish on the company's brand. The good news is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, check out how other companies in similar industries deal with these same issues. For instance, customer-facing post-mortems are made public in a reasonably short amount of time to provide more transparency. Pick up best practices on how to address the problem from those who've done so successfully.

By keeping these tips in mind during your next crisis, not only can internal teams repair problems more quickly, but end users can be made aware of the situation in a timely manner that reinforces your position that satisfying the customer is priority number one. This demonstrates that you understand how much customers rely on and consider the availability of your service to be one of the core features you offer.

Jason Hand is a DevOps Evangelist at VictorOps.

The Latest

July 19, 2018

Despite 95 percent of CIOs expecting cyberthreats to increase over the next three years, only 65 percent of their organizations currently have a cybersecurity expert, according to a survey from Gartner. The survey also reveals that skills challenges continue to plague organizations that undergo digitalization, with digital security staffing shortages considered a top inhibitor to innovation ...

July 17, 2018

In my first blog in this series, I highlighted some of the main challenges teams face with trying to scale mainframe DevOps. To get past these hurdles, the key is to develop an incremental approach that enables teams to capture value along each step of the journey ...

July 16, 2018

The key to mainframe DevOps success is in quickly identifying and removing major bottlenecks in the application delivery lifecycle. Major challenges include collaboration between mainframe and distributed teams, lack of visibility into the impact of software changes, and limited resource flexibility with scaling out necessary testing initiatives. Now let's take a closer look at some of these key challenges and how IT departments can address them ...

July 11, 2018

How much are organizations investing in the shift to cloud native, how much is it getting them? ...

July 10, 2018

In the shift to cloud native, many organizations have adopted a configuration-as-code approach. This helps drive up application deployment velocity by letting developers and DevOps teams reconfigure their deployments as their needs arise. Other organizations, particularly the more regulated ones, still have security people owning these tools, but that creates increased pressure on the security organization to keep up. How much are organizations investing in this process, and how much is it getting them? ...

June 28, 2018

More than a third of companies that use serverless functions are not employing any application security best practices and are not using any tools or standard security methodologies to secure them, according to the State of Serverless Security survey, conducted by PureSec ...

June 27, 2018

The popularity of social media platforms and applications is spurring enterprises to adopt "social business" models to better engage with employees and customers and improve collaboration, according to a new study published by ISG ...

June 25, 2018

The previous chapter in this WhiteHat Security series discussed Codebase as the first step of the Twelve-Factor App and defined a security best practice approach for ensuring a secure source control system. Considering the importance of applying security in a modern DevOps world, this next chapter examines the security component of step two of the Twelve-Factor methodology. Here follows some actionable advice from the WhiteHat Security Addendum Checklist, which developers and ops engineers can follow during the SaaS build and operations stages ...

June 21, 2018

DevSecOps is quickly gaining support and traction, within and beyond information security teams. In fact, 70% of respondents believe their culture can embrace the change needed to fuse Security and DevOps, according to a new survey of 80 security professionals by Aqua Security ...

June 20, 2018

The larger the company size, the higher the proportion of low IT performers, according to the State of DevOps: Market Segmentation Report from Puppet, based on the 2017 State of DevOps Survey data ...

Share this